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Mysterious “acoustic attack” remains mystery.

The mystery surrounding the ‘acoustic attacks’ on US Diplomatic personnel that first happened in Cuba and then again in China, twice, continues even though a new study report was released last Wednesday, CNN reported.

[For full background and story timeline: Russians Suspected in Mystery Attacks on US Diplomats; Sept 12, 2018; TNB]

The report, a “retrospective study,” done by Dr Michael Hoffer, M.D., a professor of otolaryngology and neurological surgery at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, along with colleagues from the Universities of Miami and Pittsburgh, primarily continues to focus on the details of the symptoms, not the who which may have been responsible.

[University of Miami Medical Team Reports Acute Findings from the Havana Embassy Phenomenon; December 14, 2018; University of Miami Miller School of Medicine; med.miami.edu]

At this point, the researchers imply, they have to find the cause first, and based on the limitations, such as, “a small number of patients with symptoms,” and the ability to recreate what, or how, it may have occurred, limits their ability to find definitive answers for what caused the patients’ symptoms at this time and “remains a medical mystery.”

“When it comes to exactly what they were suffering from, “what caused it, who did it, why it was done, we don’t know any of those things,” Hoffer said during a news conference on Wednesday.”

CNN’s Isha Sesay speaks with Science journalist Jacob Ward to discuss the on-going mysterious acoustic attack on US (and Canadian) Diplomats.

The study released Wednesday details symptoms experienced by 15 men and 10 women.

They all reported being exposed to either some strange noise or pressure and then immediately after that exposure, the majority felt intense ear pain and ringing, according to the study. They all then noticed cognitive symptoms, including feeling disoriented.

The study noted that some of the findings may seem similar to symptoms of a “mild traumatic brain injury following blast exposure or blunt trauma.”


Professor Carey Balaban from the University of Pittsburgh said at Wednesday’s news conference “the energy may be acoustic, pressure waves,” or “LRAD devices (long-range acoustic devices) – so ultrasound is one mode that could be used for this.” Other methods Balaban suggested could have been radiofrequency, microwave, or light, such as lasers, are “just examples,” he said.

Authorities have used long-range acoustic devices, or LRADs, to disperse crowds of protesters with a loud, painful sound over a long distance. Some countries have used a “mosquito” — which produces a very high-pitched sound that can be perceived by teenagers but not adults — to prevent teens from loitering.

“I know of no acoustic effect that would produce concussion-like symptoms; according to my research, strong effects on humans require loudness levels that would be perceived as very loud noise while exposed,” Jürgen Altmann, a physics professor at Technischen Universität Dortmund in Berlin, told CNN in May.


Cuban officials continue to maintain they know nothing about any “targeted attacks of diplomats in Havana,” saying other factors could have been the cause.

According to CNN reporting, on Wednesday Carlos Fernandez de Cossio, Cuba’s Director General for US Affairs at the Cuban Foreign Ministry, said, “All has been speculation or manipulated information” [about the US investigation into the health incidents].”

“The concrete questions have not been asked. Why has the US government not been ready to cooperate with Cuba? What is the US government hiding? Why is it not capable of putting forward concrete, real information that the scientific community can accept?”

In an update to the TNB story of a possible terrorist attack on Wednesday in France, after a 48 hours manhunt for the man who opened fire on the Christmas Market in Strasbourg, was “neutralized” Thursday night, the LeMonde reported.

According to the report, the suspect, who who was later identified as Cherif Chekatt, was wounded in the arm by police before fleeing the scene and was eventually tracked to the district of Neudorf, where investigators and police believed he had fled to based on his known profile.

The suspect, after evading capture, managed to flee the scene in a taxi and the driver was later able to confirm to the police he had dropped off the man believed to be Chekatt in the Neudorf district.

Born in Strasbourg and stuck “S” (for “state security”) for his Islamist radicalization, 29-year-old Cherif Chekatt has a heavy judicial past with no less than 27 convictions. Seven members of his entourage, including four members of his family [his parents and two of his brothers], were still in custody Friday morning, said at a press conference the Paris prosecutor Rémy Heitz. A search warrant was also issued for another of his brothers, residing in Algeria.


According to a LeMonde report on the victims, initial reports of 3 killed and 11 injured was revised to 4 killed and 12 wounded. The fourth person, a 28-year-old Italian journalist, who was in Strasbourg covering the EU Parliament session, who was critically wounded in the attack died as a result of his injuries. This death “is added to the 45-year-old Thai tourist, the 50-year-old family man from Strasbourg and the 45-year-old Afghan car mechanic” who were killed during the attack.

There is a fifth victim who is also critically wounded listed as “brain dead.” Of the eleven others wounded, four remained hospitalized Friday morning.

Paris prosecutor press conference.

France 24 English
Published Dec 12 2018

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